I don’t want to ask, but I can’t stop myself. “But why? Why does he want to help us?”

She laughs. “You have to know Johnny. That’s just the way he is. Did you not see how Faith attached herself to him? She knows he will keep her safe.”

I think back to the night before. “Yes, she is definitely attached to him. She cried for him all last night. Your daughter is lucky to have him as an uncle.”

She sighs, and then tells me the full story about Johnny. About him being her late brother’s best friend. His service in the army, and even his stint in rehab.

“Honestly, Olivia, he should be the one to tell you all of this, but I want you to know because I don’t want you to hurt him. He’s been through a lot. And if he’s into Faith… and you like I think he is, then I don’t want to see him get hurt.”

It amazes me that she thinks I could hurt him. Yes, I’m surprised about the past, but it doesn’t make him less of a man. He saved my daughter. There’s no way I could look at him less after that.

I hang up after I get the pep talk and sermon from Sierra. She did make me feel better. I am better prepared to protect Faith. I have my gun permit and since I left Caleb, I carry it everywhere now. I have to defend my daughter. There is no other option.

“Mommy!” Faith screams and I run up the stairs to her. I had hoped she would sleep longer.

Johnny

My phone rings and I look at the caller id and see it’s Sierra. With a smile on my face, I answer. “Hey, sis!”

She doesn’t beat around the bush. “Hey, Johnny. I need a favor.”

“Sure. Anything.” I stand up from my desk and stretch my arms up over my head. I have been sitting for too long.

“Can you go check on Faith and Olivia?” she asks me.

I grab my keys off the desk and start walking toward my truck. “Yes. Are they okay?”

In one quick breath, she tells me. “Well, I just got off the phone with Olivia. She’s so tough, Johnny, but she doesn’t know how she’s going to protect Faith. And then Faith was up crying all night. I just think she needs someone right now, and Ryder won’t let me go over without him and he can’t get here for another hour.”

I flip my phone over to the speakers on my truck. Putting it in drive, I tell Sierra not to worry. I’m on my way there now. I don’t even need the address. From all my research today, I committed it to memory. I promise Sierra I will let her know later how it’s going and hang up.

Pulling into Olivia’s driveway, I notice an unmarked police car sitting in front of her house. I look at the man briefly and he doesn’t take his eyes off me. I walk over to him and ask him what is he doing outside my friend’s house.

“I was told to watch the house,” he answers simply.

Putting my hands on the door, I lean down to look him in the eye. “Are you watching the house or the people in it?”

He only shrugs at me.

“Who asked you to do this?” I know it isn’t one of our guys so all I can assume is it is one of her ex-husband’s men.

When he doesn’t respond, I leave him and walk up her front porch.

I knock on her front door, then look back at the car and the man is still watching me.

“Who is it?” she hollers through the door.

“Johnny.” And no sooner do I get that out than the door swings open and a little redheaded girl jumps into my arms, about knocking me backwards.

“Faith! Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Olivia apologizes to me.

I hold on to her and push my way into the house past Olivia and shut and lock the door behind me.

“Hey, Faith. How you doing, honey? I hear you didn’t sleep good last night.” I sit down on the couch and put her on my knee.

She just shakes her head side to side.

“Well, that’s okay. I’m here now, so how about we sit here and watch a little television?”

She says okay and hands me the remote, then sits next to me on the couch. Olivia is just staring at the two of us like she can’t figure out what is happening. I smile at her to try and reassure her, but I don’t think it’s helping. Exhaustion is evident on her face, and it kills me to see her like this. I no sooner get a family movie on than Faith is leaning into me, yawning.

Once I feel her body go limp against me, I reach over to Olivia to get her attention. She startles, like she was in a trance. I would say she needs some sleep as well.

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